Compression clothing is apparel designed to press firmly against an athlete’s body to provide physical support. The use of compression first appeared 60 years ago to provide relief for those suffering from circulation disorders, and clothing to provide compression had been introduced following this. In recent years, the clothing has grown rapidly in popularity among sports practitioners and enthusiasts. The benefits that compression clothing provides include circulation improvements, enhanced muscle recovery from injuries, improvements in oxygen use efficiency and distribution, and increases in overall athletic performance.
1. Circulation: A 1987 study by the American Journal of Physical Medicine showed that athletes who wore compression sleeves had reduced levels of lactic acid in their blood. Scientists think that the reason for this is that compression drives blood deeper into the muscles and prevents lactate from leaving them. It also appears to slow swelling.
2. Muscular system: When the correct amount of pressure is applied, compression clothing improves oxygenation of the muscles. It also relives pain associated with muscle soreness and stiffness.
3. Recovery from injuries: Compression garments contribute significantly to promoting recovery from sports-related injuries, making compression clothing important for injury management and safety reasons. In fact, compression has been shown to be as effective in promoting recovery as water therapies. Of the benefits of compression discovered by science, its ability to expedite and improve recovery from injuries has the most scientific backing by a considerable margin.
3. Oxygen usage: Studies also suggest that wearing compression clothing improves the muscle coordination of athletes. Because less effort is put into coordinating movement, oxygen usage becomes more efficient when compression clothing is worn. Efficient use of metabolic resources increases the body’s work capacity, making compression clothing a performance aid for athletes.
4. Overall athletic performance: Other than the benefits associated with efficient oxygen usage, compression shorts were found to increase the consistency of jump heights as well as increase sprinters’ ability to maintain stride frequency. Theories for the causes of these two benefits include improved muscle function due to the compression clothing holding the muscles in place. When muscles are not held into place, they vibrate, which could lead to energy loss. It is also quite likely that circulation system and oxygen usage improvements described previously contribute to increases in athletic endurance.
For all these reasons, athletes can stand to benefit from wearing compression clothing while taking part in sports or exercising. Due to improvements in the way the body handles oxygen and blood during aerobic activity from wearing this type of clothing, intensity of exercise can be increased and endurance-related benefits may also be experienced. Not only can compression clothing promote recovery from injuries, compression clothing also commonly features thick padding that eliminates excess sweat produced by the body and provides cushioning to shield athletes’ bodies from injury. Because of this, wearing compression clothing is advisable not only for efficiency reasons, it just might make you safer while you are out on the field as well.